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Second World War (1939 - 1945)

Key facts about our involvement.

  • Sailor holding Minnie the cat after escaping a ship sunk by torpedo circa 1940 © RSPCA Photolibrary
    In 1940, 37 silver medals were awarded to our inspectors who risked their lives carrying out animal rescues in areas barred to the public because of delayed time bombs.  
  • Of the animals rescued from bombed sites, 10,100 pets sadly had to be put to sleep. But 5,940 animals survived and were successfully rehomed.
  • Our Southwark, Bristol and Manchester animal clinics were completely destroyed by bombs in 1940, and our headquarters at 105 Jermyn Street, London, suffered bomb damage too.
  • RSPCA inspector holding terrier after rescuing from a bomb site circa 1940 © RSPCA Photolibrary
    Extra inspectors had to be drafted in to deal with oiled sea birds caused by sunken submarines.  
  • By 1944, we had established 734 animal rescue centres to deal with the casualties, strays and the sick.
  • During this war (1939 - 1945), we rescued and treated over 256,000 animal victims of enemy action, in addition to more than one million animals suffering from general injury and sickness.

War Animals (Allies) Fund

  • RSPCA headquarters from 1869 to 1973 - 105 Jermyn Street, London © RSPCA Photolibrary
    At the beginning of this war, animals such as horses, mules and even camels were still used as carriers of men and supplies, and dogs became guards or did reconnaissance duty and mine detecting.
  • Because of the many calls for assistance required for the horses and mules used by the allies, we set up the War Animals (Allies) Fund, which raised £55,000
  • Greece was overrun by the enemy and so we began by sending 150 veterinary chests and several thousand horse blankets and bandages there.
  • Similar supplies were sent to Russia, and had already been sent to British and Australian cavalry operating in Syria and Lebanon, the remainder of which was forwarded to Greece.
  • Volunteers fundraising for the RSPCA in street circa 1940 © RSPCA Photolibrary
    During 1942 alone, £27,000 worth of supplies were dispatched.
  • Veterinary supplies were also sent to Mediterranean forces, Military Quarantine Stations and the Polish Army using what had been invested from the Fund for Sick and Wounded Horses at the end of the First World War in 1918.

  • Much of our work was carried out with the support of dedicated volunteers, who helped us appeal for more funds and veterinary supplies when required.